Regulatory Proposals for Diamondback Terrapins and Bobcats

The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) announced today that the agency is accepting public comments on two regulatory proposals. One proposal is for the closure of the diamondback terrapin season; the other revises the special permit requirements for bobcat hunting and trapping.

The Diamondback terrapin is an aquatic turtle that lives within the brackish waters of the lower Hudson River, Long Island Sound, New York Harbor, and the south shore of Long Island. There is currently an open season for taking the species under a commercial license from August through April. Declines in terrapin populations from harvest and habitat loss has now prompted states to ban the commercial harvest of Diamondback terrapins.

A single season of intensive harvesting has the potential to endanger this species in New York. Therefore, DEC is proposing to close the harvest of diamondback terrapins and to give the species the same protections as other native turtles in New York.

Upon completion of the Bobcat Management Plan in 2012, regulations were adopted to establish a hunting and trapping season in select Wildlife Management Units (WMUs) in central and western New York, referred to as the “Harvest Expansion Area” (HEA). In areas open to bobcat hunting and trapping, individuals are required to have a license and to have the animal “pelt sealed” (i.e., have a plastic tag affixed by DEC staff) after harvest.

However, to hunt or trap bobcats in the HEA, licensed hunters and trappers were required to obtain a free “special permit” from their regional wildlife office. This requirement allowed biologists to collect information on participation, harvest, harvest pressure (e.g., number of days afield, number of traps set) through a diary or “log”, and to collect biological samples. This robust data set allowed biologists to assess the status of the bobcat population and evaluate harvest.

After three seasons of data collection, sufficient information on harvest pressure and take has been collected such that the special permit is no longer needed. If the regulation is adopted as proposed, hunters and trappers that pursue bobcats in the HEA will still be required to have a hunting or trapping license and to have the animal pelt sealed.

The Notices of Proposed Rulemaking can be viewed on DEC’s website and in the New York State Register. The public comment period will be open through June 9, 2017.
Comments must be submitted in writing to:

Proposed Bobcat Regulation: Michael Schiavone, NYSDEC, 625 Broadway, Albany, NY 12233-4754

Proposed Terrapin Regulation: Kathy O’Brien, NYSDEC, 625 Broadway, Albany, NY 12233-4754

Or e-mail comments; subject line “Bobcat Regulation” or “Terrapin Regulation.”